Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Programme Category


Article available in the following languages:


Preparatory Phase of ESFRI projects


Specific challenge: The ESFRI roadmap, updated periodically, identifies the needs of the European scientific community in terms of research infrastructures. However, inclusion in the ESFRI roadmap does not guarantee that these needed infrastructures will be built. Before proceeding with the construction and/or implementation of the identified infrastructures, many preliminary decisions need to be taken with respect to issues such as the identification of funders, the financial plan for sustainability, the governance by involved stakeholders, the site and legal form of the managing organisation, the architecture and the service policies. The aim of this activity is to provide catalytic and leveraging support for the preparatory phase leading to the construction of new research infrastructures or major upgrades of existing ones.

Scope: The preparatory phase aims at bringing the project for the new or upgraded research infrastructure identified in the ESFRI roadmap or in the European strategy for particle physics (CERN Council) to the level of legal, financial, and, where applicable, technical maturity required for implementing it. Proposal consortia should involve all the stakeholders necessary to move the project forward, to take the decisions, and to make the financial commitments necessary before construction can start (e.g. national/regional ministries/governments, research councils, funding agencies). Appropriate contacts with ministries and decision makers should be continuously reinforced, thus further strengthening the consortia. Operators of research facilities, research centres, universities, and industry may also be involved whenever appropriate. During the preparatory phase the Commission may act as a 'facilitator', in particular with respect to the financial engineering needed for the construction phase. The preparation of the legal agreements (including site, governance, financing of the new research infrastructures) is one of the main activities and deliverables and must be finalised before the end of the project (e.g. through the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding).

If the preparatory phase includes technical work it should be implemented as a Research and innovation action, otherwise as a Coordination and support action. The detailed list of activities that can be included in a preparatory phase proposal is given in part A of the section “Specific features for Research Infrastructures”.

Under Horizon 2020 support can be provided to two types of preparatory phase proposals:

Preparatory phase type I: Proposals will address research infrastructures identified in the periodic updates of the ESFRI roadmap or in the European strategy for particle physics, that are willing to set up a pan-European governance and legal structure (e.g. in the form of an ERIC).

Preparatory phase type II: Proposals will target new research infrastructures projects, which have already been supported by EU through a first preparatory phase grant and have not yet entered in implementation phase. These infrastructure projects must demonstrate in the proposal their critical need for an additional support in order to complete their preparatory phase. In this case a reduced grant of a duration not exceeding two years for the continuation of the preparatory phase could be given to support a limited set of activities in particular for setting up an adequate governance and management structure, securing financial commitment and broadening the membership. The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 1.5 million would allow this challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Under this work programme only preparatory phase type II proposals can be submitted and only by ESFRI projects which entered in the ESFRI Roadmap in 2008 and which are not addressed by topic INFRADEV-3-2015.

Expected impact

Proposals will raise the technical, legal and financial maturity of projects for new research infrastructures to the level required to enable the construction work to start.

  • All the technical, financial, and legal documents which are necessary for the implementation phase of a new or upgraded research infrastructure are created. Participating funding bodies are able to take their final funding decisions and to conclude the legal agreements necessary for the implementation.
  • In particular, any technical work necessary to draft the final technical design is completed, providing a sound technical base for establishing a cost baseline and detailed financial planning.
  • The financial needs of the project are mapped out to the extent necessary for funding agencies to establish their own medium- and long-term financial planning; and
  • The preparation of the legal agreements for establishing the implementing / operating consortium is completed, including the project's governance and appropriately detailed internal rules.

         The technical work carried out under this topic will contribute to strengthening the technological development capacity and effectiveness as well as the scientific performance, efficiency and attractiveness of the European Research Area.

Type of action: Coordination and support actions or Research and innovation actions